General gardening topics

How to kill weeds permanently and prevent them in the first place

Last updated on April 4th, 2022

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Weeds are the bane of many gardeners’ existence. It can seem almost impossible to get rid of certain weeds that just seem to keep cropping up when and where you don’t want them to. The key is a multi-faceted approach that includes killing the current ones we have so that we can prevent weeds in future.

How to kill weeds permanently

Being able to kill weeds permanently really depends on where the weeds are proving the most problematic. There are ways to kill weeds that are cropping up in cracks along the driveway and there are ways to kill weeds that are growing around your vegetable garden.

Removing weeds manually, you need to remove the roots too

Obviously, the first method is to pull weeds out by hand. This is something that will only be a permanent solution if you are thorough enough, removing the root as well, which is easier said than done. When you pull weeds up by hand you need to make sure that you get the roots at the same time, otherwise, the remaining roots will simply regrow.

If you have a large area to cover this might not be the most effective method and if you are unsure of your ability to successfully pull out every weed you might want to consider doing something else alongside this method. However, it is very effective if you have a few weeds growing up in between plants you are purposefully cultivating. Regularly removing them as soon as you see them can help control the weeds before they deprive your plants of nutrients. 

Fiskars Xact Weed Puller, Length: 1 m, Stainless Steel Handle/Plastic Handle, Black/Orange, 1020126
  • Weed puller for weed control with a diameter of max. 4 cm, For a sustainable and environmentally friendly weed control, Ideal for the extraction of dandelions, thistles, nettles and other root crops in loose soils, vegetable garden or garden
  • Traps the roots of the weeds between the claws of the weed puller (up to 10 cm underground), Extracts the plant along with its roots thanks to a patented mechanism of claws, With a little pressure on the handle the claws open and the weeds are released straight into a waiting wheelbarrow and off the lawn
  • Work in an upright position: No strain on the muscles and shoulders thanks to the long handle, Practical non-slip handle for a better hold
  • Handy foot pedal to push down the weed puller, Long life thanks to stainless steel claws and sturdy plastic handle (fiberglass), Easy to clean with water, Finnish design
  • Contents: 1x Fiskars Xact Weed Puller, Length: 1 m, Diameter: 3 cm, Weight: 950 g, Material: Stainless Steel/Plastic, Colour: Black/Orange, 1020126

Try using bleach to control weeds in cracks

If you have a problem with weeds growing along your path or driveway, on your patio, you will be pleased to know that you can get rid of these problem weeds by pouring bleach. Pour diluted bleach into the cracks and crevices, and after a day or two, any of the weeds that you have will be dead and can be easily pulled out. Rest assured the bleach will prevent them from coming back. This is not something you want to do on a long walkway that has grass or border flowers because it will kill those too, so only use it on otherwise hardscaped surfaces.

Domestos Extended Germ Kill Bleach, 5 L
  • Brand Original
  • High Quality
  • Ideal for home and office use
  • General Cleaning
  • A little goes a long way

Boiling hot water is a good environmentally friendly option to bleach

If you don’t want to use bleach outside and would prefer something more natural, boiling water in your kettle and pouring it over the weeds is also said to kill them, meaning you can pull them out after they have cooled. This method will only work for killing the weeds you have now and not for preventing weeds in the future because this method, unfortunately, doesn’t always kill the roots, but it’s worth a try and budget-friendly.

Trying mixing salt with boiling water

Likewise, you can pour salt mixtures, with one cup of salt to two cups of boiling water directly onto the weeds. This will work very well along cracks in your driveway or on your patio, basically areas where you don’t have plants that you would otherwise worry about accidentally killing.

Vinegar’s acidic qualities make it an excellent weedkiller

If you don’t have any salt lying around, vinegar will do the trick. Pour vinegar directly into the cracks along your pathway or driveway and watch as the existing weeds die. Once they are dead pull them out and enjoy a weed-free landscape. It’s worth noting that vinegar can be purchased in larger quantities at very affordable prices and is often sold as a cleaning product.

Golden Swan White Vinegar, 5 Litre, Pack of 4
  • White vinegar
  • Shelf life: unopened: 24 months
  • Store out of direct sunlight
  • From Golden Swan

Good old herbicide weedkillers

For a more toxic and reliable method, you can use a herbicide to kill the weeds in your garden immediately. Isolate the weeds you want to kill and spray them according to the directions on the bottle. You should always wear protective gloves and glasses if you are spraying chemicals in your garden, and again be careful not to spray onto plants that you want to survive. Choose a weedkiller that actually kills the roots too and not just the foliage.

See some of the strongest weedkillers in our review by clicking here

2 x 1L Gallup Home & Garden Glyphosate Weedkiller + Free GardenersDream Cup & Gloves
  • FOR HOME USE - Can be used in your garden without the need of a spraying certificate, contains the same amount of glyphosate as professional grade weedkillers.
  • STRONG WEEDKILLER - Effectively controls annual and deep-rooted perennial weeds, kills most weeds within a single application.
  • COMPATIBLE WITH PERSONAL SPRAYERS - Perfect for use with a knapsack sprayer, simply dilute 30ml of weedkiller per litre of water
  • USE RESPONSIBLY - Do not spray in rainy or windy conditions, do not walk on treated area until dry.

How to prevent weeds

Brush baking soda onto paths, in patio crevices and cracks

If you want to prevent weeds from cropping up in your paths or driveway, try sprinkling a handful of baking soda across your concrete and then sweeping the baking soda directly into any cracks you have. The baking soda will make any small amounts of dirt, nutrients, and water that might exist in those cracks inhospitable, preventing any weeds from growing.

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Sprinkle borax or dissolve it in warm water

If you are in a new home and you don’t want weeds around the perimeter of your home or in the cracks in your newly laid block paved patio or drive, you can mix borax with warm water and apply it into all the crevices where you don’t want weeds cropping up or spray it onto weeds as a weedkiller.

Borax can also be applied around the foundation of your home to keep away spiders and ants. Again, this is something you need to apply only to areas where you aren’t growing flowers or vegetables because it is toxic to plants as well. 

Some of the methods described for killing weeds permanently will also go a long way toward preventing them. 

Covering the area with cardboard or newspaper and then a black plastic sheet

If you have a new space or you are in the middle of crop rotation you can suffocate any of the weeds that you have grown up by placing a layer of cardboard or newspaper over the area, followed by a layer of tarp or black plastic bags. The cardboard will eventually break down and simply mulch itself into the ground. But in the meantime, this prevents water and sunlight from reaching any areas you don’t want it to reach.

If you have a particularly hard time with grasses or nettles growing across a large area in your garden, you can pull the weeds out by hand and then use this method to make sure you suffocate any remaining roots. Simply add soil on top and then you can plant the flowers or vegetables you want to thereafter.

Use carpet covered in mulch

Place any carpet scraps, upside down, and cover them with bark mulch. Using smaller scraps around a vegetable garden will help you prevent weeds from spreading into that vegetable garden and will serve the same purpose as the mixture of cardboard and plastic bags because it blocks the sunlight and water from getting to the weeds so they are not able to germinate.


Just remember that some of these products will work more effectively than others depending on the area you are targeting. Also be mindful of which mixtures need to be applied carefully, specifically to the weeds, and not to any nearby plants.

Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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